In Memory of Thirty Warriors Lost in an Afghan Wasteland

In the August 6, 2011, darkness of an Afghan night, a large contingent of elite U.S. warriors flew into the proverbial valley of the shadow of death. While the details of this particular mission remain murky and confusing, it is reported that 22 Navy SEALs, three Air Force special operations ground controllers, and five Army helicopter crew members along with seven Afghan commandos and an Afghan interpreter were heading into a region southwest of Kabul to engage Taliban insurgents. During the mission, their CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down by enemy forces. None of the men on board survived.

Twenty days later, on August 26, many were laid to rest in a solemn ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. America is a poorer country today because of their deaths; but not just theirs. Every life lost in this now-god-forsaken effort is a tragedy solely because the current American commander in chief and his political allies in Congress don’t care enough about the mission to justify further sacrifice.

Of course, who can forget those halcyon campaign days when Afghanistan was Obama’s “good war,” the war he claimed we could not afford to lose, the war he accused President Bush (with some arguable legitimacy) of ignoring while the latter remained focused in Iraq?  Yet today, even with all its lingering uncertainty, the Bush-led outcome in Iraq more closely resembles VJ Day than it does the all-but-certain debacle looming just over the horizon in Afghanistan.  When thinking about Obama and Afghanistan, "abandonment to a ruthless enemy" is the phrase that most frequently comes to mind.  To continue sending our troops each day into harm’s way, while never fully committing to the defeat of the Taliban, is all but criminal in the eyes of most Americans, irrespective of their political stripes.

The sad unvarnished truth is this: Though we, and our NATO and Afghan allies, face an almost incomprehensibly evil enemy, America’s president offers no agenda for defeating them.  His heart simply isn’t in it.  So, today, despite the heroism of our fighting men, the war in Afghanistan has disintegrated into little more than a series of needlessly deadly training exercises, conducted in a desolate and faraway land Obama is desperate to leave.  Unlike the steel-tempered character of the men ordered to carry out the most perilous missions in Afghanistan, Obama’s constant derogation of American exceptionalism makes plain that America’s warrior class possesses a devotion to duty, honor, and country their commander in chief finds impossible to summon.